Do you remember your favorite teacher? Did she make learning fun and help you understand difficult concepts? Did he create a classroom environment with engaged students working to learn together?
At the heart of all education is a dedicated walimu, teacher. In Kenya, most classrooms are overcrowded, teachers lack even the most basic school supplies and are not provided with guidance and support to make their classrooms student-centered. The push to "cover the syllabus" whether students understand the content or not has been the guiding force. However, that is changing, especially in Wamunyu.
Since 2012, we have been working to provide teacher professional development workshops, and in 2018, we created "Professional Learning Communities" (PLCs) to help teachers learn from one another. As a result, when the new Kenyan competency based curriculum was introduced in 2019, many of our teachers were already using lessons that incorporated creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and self-learning. Basic techniques like "turn and talk" were introduced, along with brain breaks and movement as ways to create a dynamic lesson.
This year, we are partnering with two groups to help us expand our work with teachers. We are piloting the "Teach 2030" program created by the UK based Commonwealth Education Trust with teachers in PLC groups at our four empowered schools. Accessing the program on a smartphone, these teachers are learning strategies to create a student-centered classroom and how to deploy techniques to help students learn together. The classes are "bite-sized" so that teachers can learn in a manageable way. Working with a partner encourages them to discuss concepts and how to integrate them in the classroom. After they have completed a unit, they receive a certificate.